The setting is bizarre.
At the head of a lavish dinner table, Mr. Sinister welcomes his guests to an evening of fine dining and finer conversation. He raises his glass to Professor X, Moira MacTaggert, Magneto, Hank McCoy (strangely not mutated and in his original uniform) and a young woman in a turn-of-the-century gown.
Sinister announces this table has hosted Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler, Albert Einstein and Babe Ruth. Conversations have ranged from the Theory of Relativity to Josh Gison’s home run power. This evening, they will discuss the devolution of Homo sapiens and the evolution of Homo superior.
Hank remarks that Sinister says that as if they are binary determinations. As he pours wine for himself and Moira, Xavier replies that questions have been raised regarding when the branching of one species becomes its own species. Moira continues that the answer is when those branched species produce their own offspring. For now, mutant progeny born to human parents is statistically minuscule. And humans fight to ensure it will remain that way, Magneto states grimly. For mutantkind to have a future, they must ascertain their reign over planet.
The woman in the gown – Amanda Muller aka the Black Womb – scoffs. Max or Erik, or whatever he is calling himself this week, can they please eat, before they conquer the world?
Sinister thinks to himself they need to know how important that moment can be. What an incredible opportunity they have before them. But can they overcome their differences?
Hank praises the food and asks if Magneto is going to keep the helmet on during dinner. Magneto raises the helmet. He admits it does smell good. When they subjugate the humans, they will keep their recipes.
Amanda asks Sinister if he believes the challenges posed by mutant ascendancy will be resolved before dessert. He replies that, when looking around this table, even she must admit the possibilities are limitless.
What the others don’t know is that they are in a tesseract fold in Sinister’s underground lab beneath the orphanage in Nebraska. Mr. Sinister raises his glass and announces factors outside his control leave them just three hours to set the human race on a unified path to evolutionary glory. Shall they proceed?
Two hours and fifty-eight minutes later:
Sinister is stuck full of cutlery and throttled by candleholder, hinting that someone with magnetic powers got rather mad at him. On the other side of the room, Beast, now in his mutated furry state, is also tied to the wall. Magneto calls Sinister nothing but a human with pretensions to power. Xavier tris to calm him, and Amanda observes amused that didn’t go as planned, though certainly as expected.
Sinister stretches his arm to knock the helmet off Magneto’s head and shouts at Xavier to act. Xaiver telepathically paralyzes Magneto.
Sinister caustically remarks he would worry his telepathy had turned Magneto’s brains to mush, had years of stupidity and futility not already done that. Xavier angrily replies it was abhorrent of him to describe experimentation on mutants as breaking eggs to make an omelet. Sinister admits that, considering Magneto’s tragic past, he probably should not have said that. But they all carry a burden of tragedy, don’t they? It informs why they do what they do, Moira agrees.
Amanda retorts she believes many of them do what they do in search of tragedy, and would Nathaniel care to explain that? She points at Magneto, whose face is literally liquefying. Moira recalls Sinister said they had three hours to solve the problem. Because that’s how long their clone bodies would remain viable!
They are clones? Hank asks horrified, while Magneto turns to dust. Sinister asks how else could Xavier walk or Amanda be young and beautiful? He has had these dinners with countess combinations of minds he respects, and each time he learns something new.
A red energy doorway appears and he walks through it into a lab.
Yet, each time, it ends in a desperate struggle to watch them all eke out one more moment of existence. But still he learns, for isn’t the way they handle death as vital as the way they handle life? Moira and Hank follow. Hank is like a child in a toystore, announcing it’s like every genetic lab on Earth donated their equipment.
They look through Sinister’s database for their genome sequences, hoping to use that knowledge to override their genetic degradation.
Xavier turns to Amanda and asks why she doesn’t help. Because she accepts that she is not Amanda Mueller, is the reply. She is a construct, though with enough free will that she refuses to accept being a mouse in Nathaniel’s maze. Even as his body begins to melt, Xavier enters her mind to see if there is any helpful intel. Horrified, he sees she has always known. As he falls apart, he asks why she didn’t ever do more.
Sinister tuts. How does she keep her secrets when he made her to reveal them? Amanda retorts that Klein and Ullsperger discovered that stubbornness is genetic.
While at the Max Planck Institute he believes, adds Beast, who is mutating further and looking into a microscope. Did the two of them know Max personally? This is not good, he states a moment later. Moira adds their lymphoid tissues were designed to collapse, a cascade across the thymus and lymph nodes, leading to catastrophic cellular degradation. Angrily, Moira berates Sinister for giving them life, only to take it away again. Why did he do that? For the conversation, of course, he replies. They were just a means to an end, and it appears the end is near.
The building shakes. Sinister switches on a screen showing the real X-Men – Beast, Psylocke and Gambit – attacking the base.
Sinister explains that the doorways between folded space are being closed. If they sever the interspatial umbilical passage connecting them, he may be lost here forever! Moira orders him to worry about the integrity of this tesseract while they worry about staying alive.
Moira and Hank consider several scientific solutions while Sinister tries to create a stasis field around the lab.
Beast injects Mora with resequencing nanites, then has her step in front of a scanner. He believes the nanites are working but the next moment she crumbles to dust. Beast, now looking like his catlike version, apologizes while Sinister notices the tesseract is collapsing on itself. They have to complete the stasis field or the lab will be crushed!
Amanda mocks suddenly he is talking in the plural. Hank attacks Sinister angry about playing with their lives, wasting all that knowledge. The he too crumbles to dust.
That was unfortunate, Sinister grants. Disgusted, Amanda, now a crone, tells him the truth always is. She calls him a fool. He reminds her she was his pupil over a century ago. She retorts that, in all the time he focused on playing mad scientist, she focused on the destination, not the journey. She lights a screen showing him a formula, which is then replaced by an image of himself battling X-Factor. He realizes this is from his spatially phased cameras. Is a clone of him battling them? Amanda calls him a half-wit – the real Sinister is in Hawaii, battling X-Factor. His cloning vats are incubated in pairs. There were six of them at dinner tonight: Xavier and Magneto, Moira and Beast and Amanda and him.
Clone Sinister realizes his true self is frittering away time and opportunity, while the data Amanda retrieved is buried in Black Womb’s files only she knows how to access. This could be everything - the destiny of Homo sapiens and superior. He can translate the binary code but what does it mean? he asks Amanda. What is Homo unitus? She chides him this is what he should have been striving toward all along… the inevitability of their evolution. What the real Amanda has tried but failed to achieve over many decades. As she dies, her last words are that it requires more than he is capable of. It requires hope.
He doesn’t understand, until he solves the code realizing the destiny is for mutant and human to become one again. He tries to send the data somewhere the real Essex will find, but he doesn’t know if the message will ever reach him. He spends his last minutes regretting the life of the real Nathaniel Essex, who only sought power instead of meaning…